First we will cover what stomach pain is. It is also known as abdominal or gut pain. No matter what name is used, the condition can be mild or severe. At some point in your life you will experience it to some degree.
A simple description is a pain in your abdomen and digestive tract. This can be gas, cramping, sharp stabbing or even feel muscular in nature. Each person will experience different symptoms and level of severity.
It is important to understand your body when deciding how to treat this pain. The digestive system has four main parts. The upper, lower, right and left quadrants. A stomach ache may come from any of those areas.
The condition you are suffering depends on where the pain is happening. Determining the area will also help pinpoint the organ involved.
There are many reasons for stomach pain. It may come and go or be a one-time incident. Pay close attention to any recurring pain or one that is severe. Stomach pain may indicate conditions that need further attention from a doctor.
What is the digestive tract?
We often think of the stomach as the only organ that makes up the digestive system. As you see with the diagram above, there are far more organs involved. The process of digestion begins at the point of entry into your body (mouth) and ends at the point of exit (anus). There are various stages in between.
The upper digestive tract is made up of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, and stomach. The duodenum is the muscle between the upper and lower tracts.
The lower digestive tract includes the small and large intestines. The pancreas and gallbladder are two more important organs in this section. They each produce digestive fluids.
The colon and anus are also vital to the entire system. If the body was unable to expel waste, it would poison your system. This could potentially lead to death.
What are common causes of upper stomach pain?
Not all pain felt in the upper area of the digestive tract are actually part of that system. Some pains will feel like they are but are associated with organs nearby. The list of stomach pain causes varies based on the source. Below is a list of ones that are common.
Acid reflux is one condition most of us experience sometime during our lives. It may be caused by our diet or even the stomach flu or food poisoning.
What are common causes of lower stomach pain?
The same is true here as with the upper stomach pains. It may not be due to the intestinal tract. Organs that are near the system may be thought of as stomach pains. Muscle strain, ovulation and pregnancy are common causes.
Right or left side stomach pain causes.
There are times when a pain is more associated with the right or left side of your body than the center. This can help diagnose the cause. They will likely still be referred to as stomach pains.
- Colon cancer
- Gallstones (Gallbladder issues)
- Inguinal hernia
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Pancreatic pain
What are some symptoms of abdominal pain?
As you can imagine, there are many possible symptoms. The feeling you experience will depend on the particular digestive problem. Below is a list of the most common causes of stomach pain.
- Upset Stomach
Symptoms that are less common:
- Chest pain
- Hard and tender stomach area
- Neck pain
- Severe pain that interferes with daily routine
- Shoulder pain
- Stomach ulcers
- Stool with blood
- Vomit with blood
Prevention is best
Muscle strain is best to prevent when possible. Stretch before exercise, don’t overwork the area, and maintain a good posture. Consulting a professional is advised before beginning any workout routine.
If prevention did not work, consider cold or hot therapy. Compression may also help alleviate the pain. Working to strengthen your core may decrease the pain while helping prevent future incidents.
Adjust your diet. Some foods are more likely to cause disruptions in your digestive tract. Spicy, fried, sugar-free and foods high in acid are all culprits. Although uncommon, some foods you may consider unlikely could cause problems.
You may need to use a process of elimination. Remove one food from your daily routine at a time. When you experience relief, you have likely found the cause. If unsure, reintroduce a small amount to see if the problem returns.
Review your medications with a doctor. Inform them of every prescribed and over-the-counter medication, Including vitamins and supplements. Some may cause stomach aches. There is also the possibility that the combination of two or more is the cause.
What are some natural home remedies for stomach pain?
There are many conventional pills and liquids created to help with stomach aches. There is not one magic remedy for all conditions. Now that we have discussed the causes and symptoms you should have an idea of what needs treatment.
Just like a strained muscle, your stomach may need to rest. The BRAT diet is a highly effective way to do just that. You remove ingredients from your plate that may irritate the already upset stomach.
The BRAT diet consists of bland ingredients. Bananana, rice, applesauce and toast. 24 hours is the recommended but some patients benefit from longer.
Keep in mind, you do need to return to a regular diet to achieve full recovery. It is wise to do that within about 24 hours. Your stomach needs to adjust to its normal functioning again.
Apple cider vinegar has been found to have many health benefits. Helping to stop heartburn or upset stomach are two more. There are pills, gummies and liquid forms on the market.
An article by Jennifer Andrews provides a simple recipe. Add 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar and 1 Tbsp of honey to one cup of warm water. This is to be used for the occasional indigestion. For heartburn prevention she suggests a cup of warm water with a Tbsp of ACV before each meal – up to three times a day.
Ginger has been used for its medicinal abilities for centuries. It is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce inflammation and pain.
There are many methods for using ginger. Fresh ginger, powdered, juice, oil or dried are just a few. It can also be consumed in ginger ale. Adding ginger to your daily routine can be as easy as sprinkling a bit into any recipe.
Ginger tea is the most common method of use. You can buy pre-made tea at most health food stores and some grocery stores. Of course, you can choose to make it from scratch as well.
Herbal teas other than ginger are also beneficial. Just like ginger root, there are pre-made teas you can buy or make your own. Chamomile and peppermint two common ones. Licorice tea is commonly used for nausea and upset stomachs.
You may find adding a bit of local honey helps with the flavor of some teas. It is best to use a local honey for the added benefits. It will help with prevention of allergies to local vegetation.
Fiber rich diets are key to success for your overall health. Pain associated with constipation can be prevented. A balanced diet with adequate fiber keeps your bowels regular.
You can purchase fiber powders and supplements. However, it may be easier to increase it in your diet. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and quality breads all contain fiber. A balanced diet is the key to success.
Water. Staying hydrated prevents a long list of conditions. Water will help keep the bowels moving. It also plays an important role in controlling acid levels.
Alkaline water is all the buzz right now. Why? It has a higher PH (power of hydration) level that is thought to dilute stomach acids.
Studies do not all agree that it has more effectiveness than tap water. It may vary from patient to patient. It is always a good idea to try for yourself.
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